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OHIO DEMOCRATS Herington considers various state offices



Published: Tue, January 8, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state party has talked to Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron about possibly seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

By JEFF ORTEGA

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- The state Senate's top Democrat, considering a bid for state treasurer, has also been asked to consider seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general or state auditor.

"They've asked me about all those," Senate Minority Leader Leigh E. Herington, a Portage County Democrat, said Monday. Herington said he hasn't made any decisions.

The filing deadline for state and local offices is Feb. 21.

"I would suspect as we get closer more and more of those races will become clear," Herington said.

One supporter: Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David J. Leland said he's had conversations with Herington about different possibilities including treasurer and attorney general.

"I think Sen. Herington would be a star in any position he decides he would want to run for," Leland said.

As the minority leader, Herington leads the Democratic caucus in the upper chamber. Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans 21 to 12 in the Senate and 59 to 40 in the Ohio House.

Herington said his experiences in the Legislature and in other posts would help him either as state attorney general or as state auditor.

The attorney general is the state's chief legal officer who represents the state in all cases in which the state is a party or has a significant interest.

The state auditor is tasked with auditing state and local governments.

The state treasurer is responsible for collecting all money due the state and for payment of all debts contracted by the state.

Official's view: "Attorney general is a position that I certainly believe I am qualified for," said Herington.

"I understand budgets," said Herington, who has served in the past on the Senate Finance and Financial Institutions Committee, the chamber's main budget-writing panel.

"I like my job a lot," Herington said of his Senate seat. "I think it would be appropriate for me to stay" in the Senate.

"But if the overall picture is better for the party with me as a [statewide] candidate I have always said I'd be willing to consider it," said Herington.

Herington, in his second and final term in the Ohio Senate, holds a law degree from the University of Akron and bachelor's and master's degrees from Kent State University. Herington was appointed to his Senate seat in 1995, was elected in 1996 and then re-elected in 2000.

On the Republican side, state Auditor Jim Petro, prevented from seeking another term because of term-limits, has said he will seek the GOP nomination for attorney general.

State Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery, prevented by term limits from seeking another term, has said she intends to seek the GOP nomination for state auditor.

Looking ahead: If Herington decides to run statewide, he said he might have to consider stepping down as minority leader.

"It's very difficult to try to serve as two different roles. That's something I would have to take into serious consideration," Herington said.

Leland, the Democratic chairman, said the state party has also talked to Stark County Prosecutor Robert Horowitz and Columbiana County Prosecutor Robert Herron about possibly seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

State Democratic Party officials are to screen Saturday in Columbus for candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court. The State Democratic Party plans to hold an additional screening later in January for other offices.




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